Updated May 11, 2018

Navient: What You Need to Know


Is Navient your federal loan servicer? Read on for what you need to know. Learn how to avoid common problems.

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What Is Navient?

Navient is a federal student loan servicer. They help the federal government manage your loans. They act as the middleman between you and the lender. It is their job to make sure your loans remain current. Loans in default will affect the servicer.

You don't get to pick your servicer. It is assigned by the DOE, so you have no say. If you got Navient as your servicer, we're here to help you understand your options with them.

Navient's services are free. A few things they can help with include:

  • Keeping track of your balances and assist with billing
  • Switching repayment plans if you can't afford payments
  • Understanding your bills
  • Customer service
  • Loan consolidation
  • Applying for forgiveness programs

Navient services millions of borrowers, for both federal and private loans. Having so many borrowers to manage could result in problems. We've highlighted some of the common problems in this article. You can avoid them if you know the right steps to take.

Read on to learn more.

When You Should Contact Navient Customer Service

You should contact Navient anytime you have issues or don't understand a bill. They are there to help you with payments. Here are some situations when you should definitely contact them:

  • You see bill issues
  • Your contact information changes
  • You can't afford your payments
  • You need to change your payment due dates
  • You received a bill while still in school
  • You have not received a bill

Note: If you don't contact Navient, your loan automatically goes into the Standard Repayment plan. This occurs whether you can afford it or not. If you can't afford the monthly payments, contact them to set up a different repayment plan.

The best way to contact Navient is via their website. You can also call them at one of the following numbers.

  • For Federal Loans, call 1-800-722-1300.
  • For FFELP or HEAL Loans, call 1-888-272-5543.
  • If you have private loans with Navient, dial 1-888-272-5543.

For questions about Navient or other servicers, call the Department of Education at 1-800-621-3115.

Navient Lawsuit and What It Means For You

Navient is facing multiple lawsuits from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and Illinois, Washington, and Pennsylvania Attorneys General. The lawsuits allege that Navient failed to properly support borrowers during repayment. Among the allegations include:

  • Failing to guide borrowers to enroll in income-driven repayment plans
  • Steering borrowers into forbearance, which causes interest to accrue and delays paying off debt
  • Providing wrong information about cosigner release
  • Processing payment incorrectly

Because of this, many borrowers were stuck with payments they can't afford. They paid more for their loans when they could have been on a more manageable income-driven repayment plan.

The lawsuits are still in progress.

In the meantime, you still have to continue to make payments. But you can file a complaint to the Department of Education or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If the lawsuits get settled, wronged borrowers may potentially see compensation, either in some form of forgiveness or refund.

Repayment Options with Navient

Every student loan borrower begins repayment with the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan evenly divides payments over 10 years. This is the quickest way to repay with the least amount of interest.

If you are unable to afford the Standard Repayment Plan, Navient offers several other options.

  • Graduated Repayment: This is still a 10-year plan, but the payments start out low and get bigger. Your payment will increase by 20% every two years. Your last two years of payments will never be more than three times your original payment.

    Who This Plan Will Work For: If you know that your income is going to increase, this is the best plan for you. Students who need to complete internships or fellowships may find another plan is better. Make sure to discuss all possible options and get a payment breakdown from your servicer.

  • Income-Driven Repayment Plans with Forgiveness: These plans are based on your current income. If you earn very little, your payments could even be $0. After 20 - 25 years of payments, the rest of the balance will be forgiven.

    The federal government offers four plans: Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Pay as You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE). Each have different qualifications and income restrictions. Speak with your servicer to determine the best option for your current financial situation. Keep in mind that even though your monthly payments are reduced, interest will be accruing for a longer period.

    Who This Option Will Work For: Income-driven plans are great if you need a very low payment for the next several years. If you're eligible for Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you MUST be enrolled in one of these 4 repayment plans. If you're doing better financially after a few years, you can leave the plan and re-enter the Standard Plan.

  • Forbearance or Deferment: If you need to put your loans on hold for any reason, a forbearance or deferment may be the best options.

    What is the difference?

    A forbearance is either applied by your servicer due to financial hardships or you request it for a specific reason. When you call your servicer to explain your financial issues, they will ask the reason and how much you can pay. If you are unable to pay, they can place a forbearance for up to 3 years on your account. But if you can pay in a month or so, that may be all the time you need to use. Reasons for a forbearance are generally unemployment or excessive medical expenses. During forbearance, the interest on your loans will continue to accrue.

    A deferment is different. You must send in a form and be qualified. A deferment can be denied if there is not enough support. You can use a deferment while in school, if you're unemployed, or in the military. During a deferment, the federal government covers the interest on your subsidized loans. Always speak with your servicer to determine the best option.

    Who This Option Will Work For: If you are temporarily struggling with payments, or if you're unable to make payments for a longer period of time, these are your best options. You can return to the Standard Repayment Plan afterwards.

Do not let your loans end up in default. The federal government provides many options to prevent your loans from defaulting. A default will ruin your credit. Borrowers have noted that their credit dropped by almost 200 points after default. Contact your servicer if you are struggling with payments.

Common Problems with Navient

In 2017, Navient received over 8,000 complaints. The most of any loan servicer. Below, we go over the most common ones.

  • Payment Handling. Issues with handling payments are big. You make your payments every month. You want to make sure they are being applied. This is one of the biggest gripes of borrowers. Borrowers making payments have been told payments were not received. Or worse, that their accounts had become past due.

    What You Can Do: Maintain your online account with your servicer. This is the easiest way to make sure that your payments are applied. A good practice is to set up your auto-debit for a few days before your due date. This way you know your payment has been made. If you notice an issue, contact your servicer immediately.

    Tip: Signing up for auto-debit is the best way to save money. When guaranteeing your payment to your servicer, they offer you a reduced interest rate. Servicers will reduce your interest by .25%. This may not sound like much, but over 10 years or more, the savings will add up.

  • Misinformation About Loans. You depend on your loan servicer to provide the best information. However, there have been several complaints of borrowers receiving the wrong loan information. Make sure that you know what repayment plan you are on.

    What You Can Do: If you are applying for an income-driven plan or a deferment, make sure your servicer gets the documents. If they do not and it is not applied, contact them right away. You should be able to depend on your servicer to provide you with the most up-to-date, correct information on your account.

  • Not Helping with Lowered Payments. A final issue for borrowers is a lack of lower payment options. There are several income-based repayment (IBR) options for borrowers, which make payments more affordable.

    Some borrowers reported calling in for lower payments. But instead of offering repayment options, Navient gave out forbearances, which not only accrue interest, but also delay paying off the loan.

    What You Can Do: If you find your servicer is applying the wrong payment plan, you should call them. Address the issue. If they will not assist you, call the DOE or even the Ombudsman Group, if necessary.

Disputes

If you have an issue with your servicer, you should contact them immediately. You can reach out to Navient on their website or by calling them at 1-888-272-5543.

If they are not providing you with an appropriate answer, call the Department of Education. The Department of Education expects loan servicers to deal with issues. But sometimes problems arise that servicers cannot or will not handle. In these cases, contacting the DOE should help. You can speak with them at 1-800-872-5327.

If the DOE is still not helping you through a dispute with your servicer, there are other options. The Ombudsman Group is a neutral third-party that can help with disputes. This is your last resort. You can reach them at 1-877-577-2575.

Other Options to Consider

If you are no longer satisfied with Navient and want to leave, there are a couple of options.

  • Consolidation: If you have many federal loans, you may have multiple monthly payments. When you consolidate your loans, it becomes one big loan. You are given a new payment due date and only one payment per month. This can make it easier to pay. You'll need to enter an income-driven repayment plan. Doing so could save you hundreds of dollars a month.

    A consolidation is also useful if your loans have entered default. If default has happened on your loans, contact the DOE. You will then log on to StudentLoans.gov and complete the consolidation application.

    If you consolidate your loans, you can pick the servicer you want. You can choose from Navient, Nelnet, or FedLoan.

  • Refinance Your Loans: If you have a mix of federal and private loans, refinancing may be the best option. Refinancing is through a private lender. They will combine your loans and give you an interest rate based on your creditworthiness. This will create one monthly payment.

    If your credit has improved since graduation, consider refinancing. You can get a better interest rate. This could result in thousands of dollars in interest savings over the years. See our favorite student loan refinance providers.

Tip: Most federal student loans have a fixed interest rate. Private student loans usually have a variable interest rate, but some may be fixed. The best strategy is to pay down the loan with the highest interest first. This may not be your largest loan. But getting a high interest rate out of the way is the best practice.

Bottom Line

The best thing is to remain in contact with your servicer. They are there to help. If you ever feel like you're struggling, contact them. Know your options. Know what will get you out of debt the fastest, but what will also be a manageable payment.

The best thing you can do is to keep records of your payments. Track your loans from the date of first disbursement. Be aware of any fees and questionable charges.

Keep yourself educated. Read through our other articles about student loans. Gain confidence when talking with your loan servicer.

More from CreditDonkey:


How to Lower Student Loan Payments


Should I Consolidate Student Loans


Student Loan Forgiveness

More Articles in Money Tips


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